Friday, March 12, 2010

...and Texas will soon be a very bad place for K-12 education

What a month it's been. First Utah goes after pregnant women, and now Texas seems determined to handicap its children by teaching them alternate history as if it were fact.

The New York Times reported today that the Texas Board of Educated is planning to indoctrinate its children and youth with lies, using textbooks that rewrite history-- US history and world history both. It sounds as though the article barely scratches the surface of the School Board's collective fantasies; the examples it gives center on the US Constitution, US history, and the US's "Founding Fathers." Dominated by fantasists (who all seem to be Republican) voted 11-4 on "conservative"- recommended content of future textbooks. It's hard to believe conservatives have become such crackpots. My father was a conservative and a fundamentalist Lutheran, but I've no doubt that he'd have found this appalling.
There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics.

The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution.

"I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state," said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. "I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution."
The American Revolution was... religious? It was fought on... religious grounds? I can't begin to imagine how any details of that could even be invented. How in the world are the writers of the textbook going to be able to pull off making such whacko assertions? But since they're apparently writing Thomas Jefferson out of their history, I guess they can do anything.

But I have to wonder. After this kind of "education," will any high-school graduate of a Texas high school ever be considered qualified enough to be admitted to any institutions of higher learning anywhere (except, of course, the online mail-order degree-mills)?

Here's more-- in which we learn that St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin were really the authors of all the revolutions that tore apart Europe for more than half a century of its modern history:
Even the course on World History did not escape the board's scalpel.

Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among the conservatives on the board because he coined the term "separation between church and state.")

"The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based," Ms. Dunbar said.

Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons "the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others."

It was defeated on a party-line vote.
Can you hear me giggling hysterically?


Nancy Jane Moore said...

The Texas State Board of Education has always been a joke, but I'm finding it harder and harder to laugh these days.

Josh said...

"I can't begin to imagine how any details of that could even be invented." Well, David Barton's many invented quotes from the Founders that endorse our nation's Christianity are a start.

My only hope comes from my experience as a college educator, which suggests that kids don't remember their high school history classes at all.

Athena Andreadis said...

Texas has always been gaga. Where is Molly Ivins when you need her??

Unknown said...

The scary part is the influence Texas has on textbook companies, which then affects the rest of the nation.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

This particular round was only addressing curriculum, not textbooks, as I understand it. (All the news about this stuff hits my RSS feed for work, even though none of the pubs I write for cover it, and I force myself to read some of it.) Given that a couple of right wing incumbents lost in the primary, there may be a little improvement next year, but don't hold your breath.

Anonymous said...

As bad as this is, Colorado students come to my classes surprised that whites treated Native Americans poorly and ready to bristle if I teach them the intellectual history of Europe that includes socialism. I had a Lakota student who was routinely sent to the principal's office when she offered alternative ideas about history.

Anonymous said...

In Colorado I regularly get students who are surprised that European-Americans treated Native Americans badly. And they're ready to complain if I dare to teach European intellectual history that includes the theory of socialism.